Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Truth and the Little Pink Bear

         Confession time - I grew up loving a bear named “Pinky”. There, it’s out. While my brother had “Yellow Bear” (a healthy, reasonably boyish color), my constant childhood companion - the one who slept right next to me every night - was a small stuffed oso of the rosa hue (a majority of the female readers are saying, “Oh, isn’t that sweet,” while most of the males are saying, “Yeah, that explains a lot”). Like Linus with his blanket, as long as Pinky was around, I knew that things would be okay. Pinky was my buddy. Pinky was my security.

Alas! Pinky has seen better days.
         Security is a wonderful thing. It stabilizes you when life gets choppy. It gives you hope when the forces seem drawn up against you. It lets you see the big picture when it seems like evil is winning. It lets you know that you are never alone even when it feels like you are the one voice calling out in the wilderness. Security can be incredibly powerful - but it is only as powerful as the source from which it is derived.

         Seeing the way Pinky has fared over time, I realize that the sense of security that I drew from this bear may have been somewhat misplaced. But misplaced security is okay when you’re a kid and you’ve got parents gatekeeping your every move. However, if I continued to trust Pinky for my security today, it would be quite weird and kinda sad. Why? Because in the grand scheme of life, Pinky can’t help me. Pinky is an empty belief, a childish hope, a powerless plaything. There is no inherent strength in Pinky; there is only the pretend strength that comes as a product of a child’s fertile imagination.

         In our culture, people are desperate for security - for the peace that lets them know that everything will all be alright. So they go searching for security in numbers, in causes, in peers, in accomplishments, in freedom, in bandwagons, in government, in rebellion. When that doesn’t succeed, they seek to block out the insecurities of life and the uncertainties of death by pursuing dreams and love and change and money and fame and followers and happiness. People pour so much worth into so many worthless things.

         The Teacher of Ecclesiastes says, “This too is meaningless, a chasing after the wind” (Eccl. 2:26). In other words, “It’s all just so Pinky-esque.”

         Genuine security is found in Truth. If something is true, then it will bear up under the greatest of weights. If something is false, it will eventually collapse under the pressures of reality. Truth’s security is derived from two aspects - its source and its consistency.

         There are two places where you can find the source of security - first, we find it in Christ. Jesus told us outright in John 14:6, “I am…the Truth.” As God Himself, Jesus is both the Source of and the model for Truth. The second origin is in the Word of God. Again, Jesus is praying to the Father and He says, “Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth” (John 17:17). All the truth we need to know about who God is and how we should live is found in the Bible.

The "Twofer" of Truth
         Since all we objectively know about Jesus comes from Scripture, the Bible is a bit of a twofer when it comes to truth’s source. Thus, it must be our life guide. If it says something is right, then it is right. If it says something is wrong, then it is wrong. If it says to do this, we do this. If it says to not do that, we don’t do that.

         When we follow the biblical standards, we will know that we are safe and secure because we will be living in obedience to God - something that He always blesses. Now, understand that I am speaking from an eternal perspective. A Syrian Christian may be following God’s Word to a “t”, then find himself at the end of an Islamic militant’s knife. While from an earthly perspective we say, “What a horrific tragedy”, from an eternal perspective we see that he is safe and secure in heaven chowing down shawarma with John the Baptist.

         Our problem comes when we Christians start treating the Bible the way the Supreme Court is treating the Constitution - as an evolving document that must have current trends and culture read into it. That will not work specifically because of the nature of Truth’s Source - God is an unchanging God (Malachi 3:6). What was once sin is always sin. What was once righteousness is always righteousness.

         And before someone comes at me with the “Do you eat shellfish, huh? Do you stone rebellious children, huh, because the Bible says you should? Do you make your wife keep silent in church, huh?” argument, please take a little time to read a book on proper biblical hermeneutics which will save both my time and your pride.

         This consistency of truth is the second source of its inherent security. The "was-is-and-always-will-be" character of God and His Word allows us to take what we read at face value without having to filter it through current culture or personal experience or emotional whims. So, when our nation’s laws move away from biblical truth, we don’t need to reevaluate our standards. When our churches begin to soften their stands, we can remain rock solid in ours. When our Christian friends begin to put rainbow screens over their Facebook icons, we shouldn’t feel compelled to follow suit so that #lovewins.

I guess it all depends on your definition of "winning"
(Which, by the way, is such a bogus, selfish sentiment - if sin is truly sin, and if sin is what separates us from God (Romans 6:23), then the least #lovewins thing we can do is give a Christian stamp of approval on any activity that hinders someone from establishing an eternal relationship with Christ. It is childish-minded, short-term, world-perspective, I-want-to-feel-good-about-myself-no-matter-what-God’s-Word-says-and-no-matter-the-eternal-consequences-to-the-person-to-whom-I-am-giving-this-morally-empty-atta-boy selfishness. Seriously, when Christians give an approving thumbs up to sin, it isn’t love that’s winning.)

         All that being said, I do think this is a perfect time for prayerful attitudinal reevaluation. Because of the consistency of God and His Word, our attitude toward sin should not be the focus of this second look. Instead, we should take this time to do some soul-searching regarding our own attitude toward sinners.

         It’s times like this that it’s easy to circle the them-vs-us wagons. It’s easy to feel attacked - probably because we truly are being attacked (just see the growing movement to take away the tax exempt status of churches so that the government is in no way supplementing bigoted hate groups like us). It’s easy to feel defensive. It’s easy to want to strike back (which is what way too many Christians did on Friday judging by the plethora of cringe-worthy Facebook postings and resulting comments, and the fact that the word “abomination” was one of the highest used search terms following the Supreme Court decision).
Quite the accomplishment - they are now
two of our three branches of government

         Now, I’m not saying we just take it. This was Supreme Court judicial activism at its worst. We Christians should fight back, but we do it in the proper venues. We do it in the courtroom, we do it in the voting booth, and we do it on our knees. We battle the system; we don’t battle the people.

         What is one of the overarching truths that we find throughout Scripture? Hate sin, love people. I don’t want to hash this all out again here. If you want to read more about it, check out my posting from a few weeks ago entitled “Yes, Chef”. Suffice it to say that “Hate the sin, Love the sinner” is not just a cliché. It’s our mission. It’s our calling. It’s Truth.

         It’s truth like this that balances heart and spirit - emotions and rational mind - the part of us that wants to shake the person caught up in sin and scream “What are you thinking?” and the part of us that wants to wrap them up in a huge loving hug. It’s truth like this that gives us a great sense of security that we can continue to be right with God while still desperately loving the people around us.

            This is great truth - God’s truth. And with great truth comes great security - possibly more security than you can even get from a little pink bear.

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